Listening to Our Client's Developing Tailored Estate Plans

Pets

Do I need to include my pets in my estate plan?

Yes, absolutely, we can help you include your pets in your estate plan. Most of our clients feel as though their pets are family and need to be protected. You can make sure they are loved and cared for if, for any period of time, you cannot care for them yourself. For example, we can help you set up a simple pet trust and provide for companionship, vet bills, toys, and food.

I have an estate plan but did not think to include my pet in it. Can I add a pet trust to my current plan, or do I need to set up a separate plan?

We can easily amend your current estate plan to include a pet trust; in fact, most pet trusts exist as part of a larger revocable living trust-based plan. If you want or need a separate pet trust, we can certainly structure it that way, but most of our clients prefer us to include the pet component within their existing plan.

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust is used to appoint a trustee and caretaker to take care of your beloved pets if you can’t, such as during any period of incapacity and after death. The trustee makes sure all of your instructions are carried out and bills are paid; the caretaker provides loving care to your pet day in and day out.

I am not sure how much money I need to appropriate for my pet trust. I want to make sure there is enough money without overdoing it. Can you help?

We can certainly help! The specifics about how much money to leave for your pet will vary greatly depending on your specific circumstances, but we can will help you create an itemized list to ensure there is enough to cover everything. Factors to consider will include how long your pet is expected to live, the current costs for caring for your pet, costs for the caretaker/trustee, etc. As for any surplus, you can easily designate where any extra money goes after your pet passes on (for example, the extra could be donated to your favorite animal charity), so you can rest assured that any extra will go where you think best. Depending on the amount being set aside and your other assets, we can also work with your financial advisor to ensure that your pet trust is completely coordinated with your other financial objectives.

My dog requires a very specific routine in order to feel safe and keep from getting anxious or sick. How can I be sure a caretaker will be able to keep my dog on her routine?

Your pet trust includes instructions for care, and these instructions can be specific. If your dog needs to be fed a certain type of food at precise times of day, prefers a special toy, has a specific bedtime or needs to be walked three times a day in a specific park near your home, you can include all this information in the instructions. You should also talk with the person you plan to appoint as a caretaker and explain the situation, so he or she knows what to expect. You can even have your appointed caretaker tag along for a couple of days to get familiar with your dog’s routine.

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